Govt ready to “bring in” doctors to ease backlog-President Ali

Last Updated on Friday, 5 April 2024, 17:00 by Denis Chabrol

President Irfaan Ali on Friday announced that government was willing to “bring in” doctors to address a backlog of cases in the public health sector if those already in the system would be unable to do so.

“If we have a backlog in a specific area, which are these areas and which areas will require us to bring in specialised help so that we clear those backlogs. I want us to spend time clearing backlog especially issues that affect women and children,” he said.

He made the announcement to hundreds of doctors from the Georgetown Public Hospital Corporation (GPHC) and regional health sector representatives at a meeting held at the Arthur Chung Conference Centre.  He promised that if the areas of backlog are identified, government would “invest in clearing it.”

After his brief address, the media were asked to leave for his closed-door session with that category of healthcare workers;

Already, a privately-owned agency has been granted permission by the Guyana government to hire 500 healthcare workers from Bangladesh and other countries. The President made no explicit mention of that proposed hiring scheme that triggered opposition concerns that the governing People’s Progressive Party Civic (PPPC) was planning to pad the voters list with citizens of Commonwealth countries whose eligibility to vote here is at least one year residency.

The Guyanese leader said when the six regional “state-of-the-art” hospitals are constructed in Anna Regina, Region Two (Pomeroon-Supenaam); De Kinderen, Region Three (West Demerara-Essequibo Islands) ; Diamond and Enmore, Region Four (Demerara-Mahaica) ; Bath, Region Five (Mahaica-West Berbice) and Skeldon, Region Six (East Berbice-Corentyne), there would be a need for highly qualified healthcare workers.

The aim is to ease the workload on the Georgetown Public Hospital Corporation, and in that regard Dr Ali charged the doctors to “identify those gaps” and develop a system “that will allow us to fill those gaps” in the face of a shortage of workers. “We have a challenge with human resource capacity in the country now. There is a shortage in almost every sector. If there are shortages in the healthcare sector, we have to find short and medium term solutions while we train to meet future requirements. There is no shortcut to this. It must be planned, structured and targeted and all of us must be part of this decision-making,” he said.

Already, government has given approval to a number of construction firms to import workers for specific projects, and it is likely that foreigners would be hired to work at the Guyana Power and Light Inc and Power Producers and Developers Inc.

The President restated that the Guyana government was “working” with the University of West Indies’ School of Medicine attached to the new New Amsterdam Hospital which would also be a teaching hospital.  Guyanese doctors are also expected to be sent to India and China.

He hoped that doctors could lecture in Guyana’s nursing programme to add value and build more local talent.